Nursing is not without challenges, but it can be a rewarding career

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Nursing might not sound appealing to many people as a career, but it has proven to be a fulfilling experience for Motshidisi Chauke. She is a professional nurse, lecturer and author.

Chauke completed her nursing diploma in 1978 and went on to complete a specialised masters degree in critical care and cardiothoracic nursing at Unisa.

She pursued a career in critical care nursing and worked in the children's and orthopedic wards and the intensive care unit (ICU). Currently, she teaches the honours and masters programme in critical care at Unisa.

Nursing has various categories. A professional or registered nurse undergoes four years of training, which enables him to work with doctors, therapists and the head of the ward.

An enrolled nurse trains for two years and deals with the basic needs of patients, which include dressing wounds and maintaining a hygienic environment. The trainee is supervised by a registered nurse.

An enrolled nursing assistant undergoes training on basic nursing care for a year and works under the supervision of the registered or enrolled nurse.

Registered nurses wear white epaulettes and enrolled nurses wear maroon epaulettes.

Working hours depend on where the nurse works and what his contract states, but the general working hours are 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. Sometimes, a nurse has to work over the weekend either on day or night duty.

"To become a nurse, you must study the science subjects - maths, biology and chemistry. You also need to be patient, caring, self-driven and humane in your approach to life. Nursing is driven by service motives. You have to be prepared to be a servant for people," says Chauke.

"If you think that nursing is well paying, then you are in the wrong place. It is a demanding career but fulfilling."

Like other jobs, nursing has many challenges. The profiles of diseases keep changing, which sometimes makes it difficult to detect ailments. HIV-Aids has made nursing a stressfulcareer because the number of patients in need of care has increased.

"HIV-Aids is not easy for us to deal with, especially if children are infected. Sometimes it can be depressing to look after people suffering from it but we always care for them," she says.

"We are also challenged by the emigration of nurses to other countries. The public hospitals have been affected the most because there is a gap and the resources then become overstretched."

The government has launched new incentives to help to reduce this gap by providing allowances to nurses working in rural areas and those working in critical services.

Team building and stress management sessions are held to help nurses manage their work-related stress.